400 invited for job interviews, none turned up

PETALING JAYA: There are many vacancies at most Indian-Muslim restaurants, which need an estimated 10,000 locals in managerial and supervisory roles and 20,000 to 25,000 foreign workers for operations, says the Malaysian Indian Muslim Restaurant Owners Association (Presma).

Its president Datuk Jawahar Ali Taib Khan said Presma had a big recruitment drive for locals with the help of a government agency in Negri Sembilan last week.

“I was informed that the agency called around 400 candidates to attend interviews from 9am to 3pm.

“Sadly, not even one turned up,” he said, adding that Presma is not giving up hope but will cooperate with agency to have a similar recruitment drive in the Klang Valley soon.

“Most of us have to cut down on our operation hours due to a shortage of workers, despite the government allowing eateries to operate from 6am to midnight.

“The shortage is so acute that many members have shut down their branches and some still stick to takeaways only,” said Jawahar in an interview yesterday.

He is appealing to the government to allow foreign workers into the country, especially those who had already obtained approval before the Covid-19 pandemic hit.

Restaurant & Bistro Owners Association vice-president Jeremy Lim said the most affected members are those who run coffee shops, mamak and Indian restaurants that rely heavily on foreign workers.“The government should know by now that local workers are not willing to take up these jobs. Even if some do, most don’t last very long. There is a disparity between expectation and reality,” he said.

Lim said the government should engage with various industry leaders to find out what the actual situation on the ground was like.

Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents secretary-general Nigel Wong said there have been staffing problems among its members but it was unable to gauge the vacancies available as most agencies are just coming back to work.

“Travel agencies and tour operators employ a wide range of people and many of them have very specialised skill sets.

“The pandemic has resulted in many of these professionals being laid off or asked to go on unpaid leave. The challenge as we emerge from this pandemic is being able to rehire these professionals, given that it may take some time for travel and tours to reach optimum commercial levels,” he said, adding that some agencies have opted to close temporarily until business conditions are more acceptable.

Malaysian Association of Hotels chief executive officer Yap Lip Seng said the main challenge in reopening hotels was the fluctuation in manpower needs during weekdays and weekends.

“Hotels had to re-strategise their manpower scheduling based on needs and even incorporate a forecasting system to anticipate manpower needs.

“Some hotels are also hiring skilled freelance workers to compensate for shortages during peak days,” he said.

Yap also said that key workers who had left the industry are not returning, adding that there was also a lack of interest among youths in joining the hospitality industry.

“The government needs to come out with mid- and long-term plans to ensure steady growth for the hotel industry,” he urged.

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